Global art market up slightly at $67.8bln in 2022

The art market rose slightly to $67.8 billion last year despite an uncertain global climate, thanks to high-end and digital sales, an annual report said on Tuesday.

Worldwide sales of art increased three percent in 2022 compared to the previous year, lifting them above the level seen in 2019 before the disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The year 2022 saw the art market hold onto its post-pandemic rebound and strengthen further despite severe economic uncertainty and the return of war to Europe," said the report by Art Basel, a major organiser of art fairs, and Swiss bank UBS.

Growth in the market came from sales of high end art and from digital art backed by non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The report added that the "US market roared back to life, again securing its premier position in the global ranks".

By contrast, sales in mainland China and Hong Kong eased as a result of strict Covid restrictions that were in force until late last year.

The report said last year's "cautious growth in the face of deep uncertainty" was "testimony to the strength of the post-pandemic art market and reason to believe in its resilience".

Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz pointed to the growth in digital art in spite of the sharp fall in cryptocurrencies that boosted this segment of the market.

"Despite the crypto winter, the popularity of digital, film and video art increased substantially, from one percent of dealer sales in 2021 to five percent last year," Horowitz noted.

"NFT-backed digital art accounted for much of that change, indicating how the market continues to evolve and adapt to the times."

Wealthy collectors remained optimistic about the future of the art market, spending more last year than they had prior to the pandemic, Horowitz said.

He cited a survey in 2022 by Arts Economics and UBS Investor Watch that found 77 percent of these collectors expected the market to grow and the majority intended to purchase art in 2023.

"So, while signals of macro-economic volatility are a dominant talking point as we head into 2023, the data shows us a resilient art market bolstered by deep-pocketed collectors, particularly at the high end," he said.




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